This is the 4 November 2021 issue of our weekly scan for political and geopolitical risks or, more largely, conventional and unconventional national and international security (open access). Scroll down to access the Weekly.
Editorial: As featured article, this week, we have the frightening E-bomb. Then the COVID-19 pandemic is coming back at the top of crowdsourced signals. Rising instability in Bosnia is also highlighted, besides the more usual signals regarding entrenched tensions around notably China, Russia and Turkey, etc. Meanwhile, despite global relevance, the environment and the COP26 did not generate many signals, which is, in itself, a signal. Indeed we should never forget that the absence of something is also key in understanding an issue, and that not considering this very absence is a dangerous cognitive bias.
A brief check on Google Trends will give you an idea of the interest or disinterest in various issues by the crowds of the “world” (minus China). We used first Climate Change, COP26, China, Turkey and Russia as search terms. In the second image, we added COVID as search term (and had to remove Russia considering the available slots). Finally, in the third image, we added Facebook (and had to remove Turkey too).
- The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 11 August 2022
- The Red Team Analysis Weekly – 4 August 2022
- War in Ukraine in the Warming Arctic – Anthropocene Wars 5
- The War between China and the U.S. – The Normative Dimension
- The American National Interest
- Food Security: China-Russia and Ukraine – Anthropocene Wars (4)
- Information Warfare and the War in Ukraine
- War in Ukraine, Megadrought and the Coming Global Food Crisis – Anthropocene Wars (3)
Using horizon scanning, each week, we collect weak – and less weak – signals. These point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve.
Horizon scanning, weak signals and biases
We call signals weak, because it is still difficult to discern them among a vast array of events. However, our biases often alter our capacity to measure the strength of the signal. As a result, the perception of strength will vary according to the awareness of the actor. At worst, biases may be so strong that they completely block the very identification of the signal.
In the field of strategic foresight and warning, risk management and future studies, it is the job of good analysts to scan the horizon. As a result, they can perceive signals. Analysts then evaluate the strength of these signals according to specific risks and dynamics. Finally, they deliver their findings to users. These users can be other analysts, officers or decision-makers.
You can read a more detailed explanation in one of our cornerstone articles: Horizon Scanning and Monitoring for Warning: Definition and Practice.
The sections of the scan
Each section of the scan focuses on signals related to a specific theme:
- world (international politics and geopolitics);
- science including AI, QIS, technology and weapons, ;
- analysis, strategy and futures;
- the Covid-19 pandemic;
- energy and environment.
However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.
The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement.
Featured image: Image of the Swedish-ESO 15m Submillimeter Telescope (SEST) at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. The photo was taken by Stefan Seip, one of the ESO Photo